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Safety Tips For Parents Who Travel

Traveling for work or going on a trip with friends can be stressful if you have to leave your kids at home. For parents who travel a lot – particularly single parents – ensuring the safety of their kids at home is paramount. Before smartphones came into the picture, parents were worried that their child could not reach them in case of an emergency. Now however, smartphones and easy internet access often leave parents feeling worried about the prospect of their teenagers at home alone.

When you are forced to leave your teen at home, enabling child safety measures online and offline are the best alternatives for parents. If you are wondering where to start, here are some effective hacks that you can use to monitor your child’s safety when you are not around.

Thinking Just Makes It Worse

Leaving kids back home when you are traveling abroad for professional or personal reasons is an unpleasant feeling for most parents. It gets worse with the ‘what if’ thoughts that seem to constantly hover at the back of your mind, intensifying stress and making you panic the whole time you are away. Some of these thoughts include:

  • What if they are kidnapped?
  • What if they are sick or injured, or have an accident?
  • What if we are targeted by online scammers?
  • What if my kids bring friends home who want to do drugs?
  • What if they go somewhere they shouldn’t be going?
  • What if they access illegal sites?

These thoughts cannot be overlooked as there is always a faint chance they might come true. Regardless of whether you’ve had the talk with your children about screen-time limits and online safety measures, it remains a challenge to check up on them when you’re not around.

The best idea is to be transparent and chalk out a safety plan together with your child. While there are many ways to spy on your kid’s devices and smartphones, you should always consider spying your “plan B.” Here are some practical solutions that are for ensuring your child’s safety when you are traveling.

1. Configuring Parental Control on Your Router

An effective strategy to set up parental controls is by modifying the configuration of your home router. Routers are the first stopping point for all internet traffic that enters your home, so setting up parental controls enables you to monitor sites for various gadgets running on your home Wi-Fi, like tablets, mobile phones, PCs and gaming devices.

2. Child Browsing Programs

Also known as “walled gardens,” these are blocking programs that prevent children from accessing any sites on the internet that are not pre-approved. They commonly allow access to recreational, email and social network websites. The good news is that these child-friendly browsers are frequently available for free, while also offering more powerful features in paid versions. These programs are generally more suitable for younger children, but are also now available for adolescents.

3. Managing Your Home Network

Your WiFi and mobile data plans can control your home network through both hardware and software options. You can use options like Circle Home and OpenDNS which will help in filtering Internet content, create search limits, and pause connections when required. These options are suitable for kids of all ages and help keep you at peace when you are away.

4. Safe Mode On

SafeSearch control is now widely accessible in most Android and Safari devices. With the help of this, parents can

  •   Manage and limit data usage
  •   Block calls and texts from unknown people and monitor (if required) children’s social media connections
  •   Filter searches and put age restrictions on applications like YouTube
  •   Monitor website access, for example blocking dating apps or explicit sites if  a child is under 18
  •   Accurately track a child’s location when he or she is away
  •   Disable apps that parents feel are inappropriate

Services like Netsanity are currently very popular medium for monitoring internet use, ensuring your child is safe both physically and virtually.

5. Parental Control Spying Devices

In this day and age, many parents are choosing to monitor their children in order to cope with growing menaces like virtual kidnapping, stalking, cyber crimes and gun violence. Nick Herbert, a British digital specialist, has recently devised an application called ReplyASAP that parents can use to secretly monitor and track their kids when they are not around. Other similar options are also widely available, such as tracking systems and listening devices that parents who travel often or stay away from their kids rely on.

Cell phone and network safety for parents doesn’t have to unduly interfere with kid’s privacy orcontrol their lives. On the flip side, children must also consider their parents’ concerns and realize that ensuring online safety doesn’t mean that parents don’t trust them or that they are doing something bad. In most cases, the children might not be involved in anything dangerous, but early action is sometimes required  to avoid falling down a slippery slope. As the famous saying goes:

There is nothing more precious to a parent than a child, and nothing more important to our future than the safety of our children.”

About the Author

Amy Scholl

Youth Technology Safety Specialist at KidGuard Dedicated to finding the best child safety measures for parents, grounded in research. Being knowledgeable about youth online usage is a key component of effective 21st-century parenting.